Will Superstorm Sandy steal Christmas from local charities?
It doesn’t look that way. Despite the enormous outpouring of local donations being funneled to storm survivors, area donors are still making it a point to give where they live.
Shelters of Saratoga, an organization that provides shelter, advocacy and referral services for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness, has actually seen donations increase since the storm. Excess food, clothing and water initially intended to be transported downstate has been dropped off, said house manager Bonnie Potter.
How to help
CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services
• Donations of new, unwrapped toys are needed for the holiday toy shop, which will be open to needy families Dec. 14. Toys can be dropped off at the CAPTAIN office, 5 Municipal Plaza, Suite 3, Clifton Park.
• Help Schenectady’s homeless and hungry through the online Gifts of Hope Catalog at citymissiongiftsofhope.com. Donors can sponsor everything from a night of shelter to baby supplies.
• The Adopt An Angel program provides funds to grant the wishes of seriously ill children. Paper angels imprinted with the story of one of this year’s local “Wish Kids” can be purchased for $3 at booths in Aviation Mall, Clifton Park Center, Colonie Center, Crossgates Mall, Rotterdam Square, Wilton Mall and First Niagara bank branches.
Northeast Parent & Child Society
• New, unwrapped clothing, toys, household goods, gift cards and food cards can be dropped off at Northeast Parent & Child Society, 1473 Erie Blvd., First Floor, Schenectady; or Parsons Child and Family Center, 60 Academy Road, Albany. Visit northernriversholidaygiving.com for a complete wish list or to donate online.
Salvation Army of Schenectady County
• Drop some cash in a red kettle at locations including Schenectady County Price Chopper, Walmart and ShopRite stores, the Niskayuna Co-op and Rotterdam Square.
Schenectady Inner City Ministry
• Monetary donations, which will be used to purchase food for the food pantry, can be mailed to SICM, 1055 Wendell Ave., Schenectady, NY 12308. Donations of food, diapers, toiletries and paper products can be dropped off at the food pantry, 839 Albany St.
Shelters of Saratoga
• Donations of new clothing for men and women, including large or extra large sweaters, long johns, gloves, flannel shirts, razors, shaving cream, gloves and backpacks, can be dropped off to house manager Bonnie Potter at 14 Walworth St., Saratoga Springs.
The facility has doubled in size and now houses 32 guests, so the need for donations has increased, she noted. At holiday time, new, warm clothing and toiletries are on the wish list.
Donations to the Salvation Army’s Schenectady County holiday kettle drive haven’t been affected by local support for Superstorm Sandy, according to Maj. Michael Himes.
“I think that people just tend to give more. I think they tend to be more aware and actually do well with their giving this time of year,” he said.
So far, bell ringers have rung up about $50,000 of the county’s $140,000 goal. Donations might be a tad behind last year, but Himes said he expects things to pick up later in the month.
Rev. Phillip Grigsby, executive director of the Schenectady Inner City Ministry, said donors are doing double duty this year.
“I think we’re seeing people that are understanding the difference between disaster relief and ongoing relief,” he said. “We’re seeing that people are going the second mile and not forgetting the needs at home.”
During December, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York sells paper angel ornaments to generate funds used to grant the wishes of seriously ill children. The Adopt An Angel campaign has been going strong for 20 years, and this year is no different, said Tim Riley, manager of marketing and communications.
Superstorm Sandy has added a giving option to the holiday plate, he conceded, but it hasn’t been at the expense of Make-A-Wish.
“I think the commitment to local children remains very strong,” he said.
Eugene White, spokesman for Northeast Parent and Child Society, shared a similar sentiment: “I think people give. They give to everything. I don’t think it’s that your donor says, ‘I have this much to give this year.’ Your average donor says, ‘These people need help, and I’ll do what I can to help them.’ ”
While Superstorm Sandy is in the forefront of donors’ minds this holiday season, the lingering issues caused locally by last year’s tropical storms have faded a bit from view, said Robert Carreau, executive director of The Schenectady Foundation.
“People have been very generous, but the further away from the event you get, there are other things that come up on the screen,” he said.
The foundation, which has contributed about $250,000 to the local flood recovery effort, receives most of its funding from wills and trusts. It shies away from year-end donation appeals so as not to compete with other nonprofit organizations, Carreau noted.
Those who were affected locally by tropical storms Irene and Lee haven’t forgotten the devastation that descended on their lives. This holiday season, many are giving in gratitude for the recovery assistance they received, and in sympathy for those affected by Superstorm Sandy, said Elizabeth Chamberlain, development director for City Mission in Schenectady.
“One thing I hear a lot is people remember what they experienced and remember how close they could be to crisis,” she said.
At CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services in Clifton Park, volunteer and family assistance coordinator Kori North said donations for the holiday shop are coming in slowly. The shop provides needy families with free gifts for their children.
CAPTAIN also organizes a holiday Adopt A Family program that matches donors with needy families.
“We’re slightly short on donors for that program, but we have seen overwhelming generosity, as well,” said North.
The dip in donors could in part be attributed to Superstorm Sandy, she speculated.
“We just know that people sometimes will choose that over the local, just because the need is so much greater and it’s so much more visible when you see on the news that people have lost everything, as opposed to Clifton Park, where we’re pretty good at hiding things,” she said.
Donations were up at Thanksgiving time, she noted. CAPTAIN was easily able to fill about 40 Thanksgiving baskets more than the year before, thanks to donations from the community.